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Total Alignment

5 Principles of Collaboration: Leverage Team Reviews to Drive Performance Across the Organization

Riaz Khadem
Contributor: Riaz Khadem, D.Phil
Posted: 07/31/2017

The following excerpt originally published on Entrepreneur and is from Riaz Khadem and Linda Khadem’s book Total Alignment.

The best results are produced through collaboration, a fundamental requirement for alignment. Collaboration needs to take place both within and outside teams, throughout the organization. In particular, the action planning process requires collaboration.

How do you improve collaboration? Here are two approaches: Abide by the five principles of collaboration discussed below, and use the team reviews to erode the silos that might exist in your organization.

Five principles of collaboration

Collaboration produces a greater good, one that benefits the entire organization as well as your own department or function. The following principles of collaboration have a strong impact on releasing the power of alignment:

1. Only make a command decision when safety is at stake. This applies to everyone regardless of the role they have relating to a process indicator. A command decision is a decision you take without consulting with others. In an emergency situation, a command decision could be appropriate. However, at all other times, this type of decision can be highly demotivating.

2. Only take back responsibility after it’s been delegated if the person is incompetent and is being replaced. This applies to managers with critical management factors (CMFs). If you have a CMF in your scorecard, then you’ve already delegated the accountabil­ity for the indicator to someone reporting to you directly or indirectly. If you’re not happy with the performance of the person who has the critical success factor (CSF), you should pay attention to their level of competency and put them on fast track training, or replace them.

3. Only make a decision about your own CSF after first getting input from those who have indispensable influence on your success. Every CSF owner should consult with the cross-functional influence (CIF) rela­tionships. If you make a decision completely on your own, those with CIFs for your factor will be less inclined to help you when you need their help later.

4. Only make decisions that impact the performance of people on whom you have indispensable influence after first consulting with them. This principle will help prevent CIF owners from taking over the job of CSF holders. If you have a CIF in your scorecard, and the factor isn’t performing well, you might be tempted to take action to solve it. But you’d be inter­fering with someone else’s job. Your action will not only be insufficient, but it will demotivate the CSF owner.

5. If you’re managing people who have indispensable influence on someone else’s results, remember that their contribu­tion should be only through influence and persuasion. This applies specifically to dotted line managers who have critical influence management (CIM) factors. As a leader, you should encourage the people you manage to collaborate with CSF owners and not take over their jobs.

Adherence to these five principles will have a significant impact on the culture of your company and will increase collaboration. Consequently, you’ll witness faster execution of initiatives at all the levels and higher impact on improving results.

Using your team reviews to erode silos

Many organizations have developed silos. They’re a type of invisible structure that impedes the cross-functional collaboration essential to alignment. Often, silos exist where one function builds its own turf without considering the needs of other functions. Silos can thrive where company politics of acquiring budget, promoting special projects or influencing job promotions are rife.

Learning about silos and how to prevent them from forming will give any company great benefits. If silos already exist in your organization, following the pattern of CSF/CIF collaboration will help break them down or “erode” their negative impact. Here are some of the dynamics manifested in the team review process that will help erode silos and encourage collaboration:

  • As the owner of a CSF, you should know you have per­mission to invite the CIF owners from different functions to your team review and consult about improving the status of your CSF.
  • As a CIF owner, you know you have permission to respond to the invitation of the CSF owner, attend their meeting and collaborate to improve a CSF.
  • Whether you’re a CSF owner or a CIF owner, you both share the status of the CSF, and therefore you both benefit from the improvement of the factor.
  • Direct communication among individuals from different departments without requiring permission or going through their boss for approval gradually erodes the silos and promotes collaboration.

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Riaz Khadem
Contributor: Riaz Khadem, D.Phil
Posted: 07/31/2017